Last week, I posted a piece on LinkedIn about toxic behaviors that I see everyday in the work I do, and the response has been quite amazing. Here’s the post:
When I write an article, I truly never know how it will be perceived and received. I just write about what matters to me, and what emerges on the forefront of what I’m thinking about and focusing on that week. In this case, I felt compelled to write about behaviors I see daily (and that I’ve engaged in as well), that wreak havoc in our lives and careers, bringing with them unhappiness, pain and suffering to those participating in them, and to everyone involved.
What’s shocked me about this post is that it went viral (1.8 million views to date), and that some of the direct responses I’ve received were evidence of the exact same toxic behaviors I’ve described.
I’ve heard from people who:
1) Attacked me for my views, and called the post dangerous
2) Accused me of thinking I was “better” than other people
3) Put me down for not seeing their “specialness”
4) Demanded I help them now
5) Criticized me for not having more time and ability to personally help everyone who needs it
6) Called me judgmental and haughty for pointing out toxic behaviors
The lesson I’m learning in my life and work right now (and it’s an important one for me) is that when something reaches millions of people, there will be just that many different types of responses (good, bad, and the ugly), and my boundaries need to be sufficient to withstand that. And I need to focus on the positive and be grateful that the post had an impact, and made people think.
About toxic behaviors, my wish from this piece is that people can begin to identify these 6 toxic behaviors in themselves but from a loving, compassionate standpoint, not to beat themselves up about it. I believe we’ve all engaged in some form of these behaviors throughout our lifetimes – they’re universal. The key to increasing your happiness and having more satisfying human connection is gaining greater awareness of when you are hurting yourself and others. Greater awareness equal greater choice.
The six toxic behaviors to watch out for are:
1. Taking everything personally
2. Obsessing about negative thoughts
3. Treating yourself like a victim
4. Cruelty – lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes
5. Excessive reactivity
6. Needing constant validation
Once you can recognize these behaviors in yourself, and accept that you have the capacity to be self-obsessed, negative, self-limiting, cruel, emotionally reactive, and overly needy, you can do something about it. But if you continue to hold yourself above self-scrutiny, you can’t change or grow.
Thank you for looking at yourself in the mirror today, and being honest and open in identifying what you see, both the things you’d like to change, and the things in yourself you’re grateful for and appreciative of. Writing this piece has deepened my commitment to identifying these toxic behaviors in myself — and also appreciating what is positive, loving, and helpful — and doing something about it.
Let me know what you think about these 6 toxic behaviors. Do you see yourself in any of these? What have you done to shift away from them?